There are no direct flights from the USA to Sicily and so we flew to Rome. Having heard horror stories of lost luggage. We decided to carry on a few changes of clothing, and underwear to ensure a less stressful journey. We used one small piece of checked luggage and it worked out ok. Our flight left Newark on time and, with the exception of a meal fiasco and someone getting sick onboard, was uneventful. Some airlines have not gotten the memo that a vegan meal should have some protein and that cow’s milk yogurt is not vegan. My husband and I received an incredible vibrating neck pillow as a shared Christmas gift (even though I am the principal user) and it did not take long for me to fall asleep on the plane. No one woke me up when dinner was served and so I missed that meal. Thankfully when I woke up, my husband went to the back of the plane and came back with my dinner minus the silverware. It was really gross, as “hangry" as I was, I could not eat more than a bite or two, AWFUL.. So after my husband brought my plate back, I fell asleep again and woke up a few hours later, hungry. Soon breakfast came and my vegan choice was a Chobani yogurt which I could not eat. Fortunately our train arrived in Rome on time but deplaning took a while because of a medical emergency. It always causes room for pause when the flight crew asks if there is a doctor on board. We never found out what happened and hope that the person that was taken off the plane in a stretcher has recovered and is having a nice holiday.
Our one piece of luggage arrived unscathed and we walked to the train station where we took a train to downtown Rome. There was virtually no wait time. It was a comfortable ride and afforded a stress-free trip into the city and, for 14 Euro a ticket, a non-stop affordable train. Once the train arrived at the station we took a short walk in search of luggage storage.
We walked through Piazza dei Cinquecento where we saw an enormous statue of Pope John Paul II.
Across the street was the Palazzo Massimo ala Terme which if we had had more than a few hours in Rome, we would have visited.
As we continued our walk, we came upon the Hummustown Kiosk.
We headed towards a café for breakfast. We each had a croissant, an omelet, salad, and an espresso for a total of 15.5 Euro. So far, so good. One of the items on our to-do list for Rome was to visit the popular Trevi Fountain, designed by Nicola Salvi during the 18th century.
Rome, as it seems is all of Italy a place where you can not walk more than a few feet without seeing spectacular art be it architecture, sculpture, or Street Art.
And so of course we had to stop to take in the building below....
Finally we arrived at the Trevi Fountain and it was spectacular.
Even in October, Trevi Fountain is crowded despite some travel blogs telling you that it is a tourist trap to avoid. Of course, it is heavily touristy because it is really worth seeing, at least once. From the Trevi fountain we headed to another touristy place, the Spanish steps.
Make it a point to pass through Piazza Mignanelli to see the Column of the Immaculate Conception. While this monument is not from the ancient world but rather from the 19th century, it is still quite impressive. Designed by Luigi Poletti, it was dedicated in 1857 as a celebratory piece.
As we approached the Spanish steps we saw a beautiful fountain.
There are signs saying not to sit on the Spanish steps but given a short window of opportunity when the polizia are looking the other way it makes a cute snap.
The Pantheon is one of the few ancient buildings that still has its roof. It is an architectural masterpiece making it virtually impossible to photograph without a crowd.
We logged 9.3 miles, 23,470 steps, which wasn’t bad for our first day.
We noticed an elephant carrying an obelisk and a very long line of people. We asked what everyone was waiting for and were told “The best sandwich in Rome”. Must be some humdinger considering how easy it is to find a great meal here. The cynic traveling with me thinks it was just marketing and a Pavlovian response from waiting for the chance to eat it that makes it “the best”. Guess I’ll never know.
Just like in Athens, there are ruins everywhere
And Statues honoring leaders of the past
We had previously visited Rome in 2015. Like this trip, Rome was a short stop-over. Unlike this trip, we had a rental car. We had stopped at St. Paul Outside the Walls and used WAZE to get back to the hotel. At least that was the plan. The directions were coming just a few yards late and we missed several turns. Undeterred, the WAZE lady kept returning us to the same place. Finally she changed her mind and put us on a different road. As my husband was driving I said” Steve, I think I see the Coliseum. He said, “Not funny, don’t even joke about that, that would be the last place I would want to be driving.”
“ Well I’m pretty sure the Colosseum is directly in front of us”., I took some snaps and we tried to get out of the area which of course was during the most congested part of the day. We made it out but not without heart palpitations, a few expletives and a couple of National Lampoon drive-bys .
Lest I digress, this time we were walking when I looked up, and what did it see?… the Colosseum.
It is definitely more pleasant circumnavigating this arena on foot than by car.
The Colosseum is not the only impressive building in the area
So a little more sight-seeing and off to find a place for dinner. About a block from the train station was a cute resto that had very tasty pasta dishes, sauteed spinach with oil and garlic, and beverages inexpensively priced. It was delicious. sorry no pictures.
Retrieving our luggage from the place at the train station, while “costly” was convenient. It was definitely worth the $32 euro we paid to store 3 backpacks and a suitcase for 7 hours. It was great walking the city with just two cameras rather than schlepping all that around. I highly recommend this.
One other thing I recommend is a portable cell phone charger because if you are out all day there is virtually no place that you can charge your phone. If, like most people, you have your train ticket as a pdf file on your phone, this can prove problematic if your phone is dead at the train station.
As it happened, we returned to the train station about 2 hours before our departure, which was not really necessary . I took advantage of the time and started typing as we sat and watched the trains come and go. We boarded the night train to Sicily and about 4 am the train was loaded onto a ferry. So yes, the scenic route involved planes, trains and a boat.
So when we arrived in Calabria, the train was hoisted onto a boat.
Later in the morning we arrived in Palermo
To continue reading about our recent trip to Sicily by way of Rome please look for our next segment - Palermo | A Cultural Melting Pot
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